Women and girls in Sonoma County took to the streets and the dance floor Saturday to demand an end to domestic violence.
At a walk in Petaluma and a rally and dance party in Santa Rosa, women took part in local versions of the One Billion Rising movement, the global effort to end sexual violence against women.
“Today, we’re rising to demand an end to violence against women and girls,” said Dalia Bravo, a member of the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women, which sponsored the event at the Friedman Event Center in Santa Rosa.
The festive yet serious afternoon featured lots of music and dancing interspersed with videos about empowering women and speeches from local female politicians. Third District Supervisor Shirlee Zane pointedly noted the lack of any male politicians at the event.
“Where are the elected men? Why aren’t they here?” Zane asked a crowd of a few dozen people. “That’s my first question.”
Zane urged all in attendance to write to their elected male representatives and suggest they attend next year. She also urged young women to seek public office in an effort to change laws around and increase enforcement of domestic violence issues.
“It’s all about who holds the power in this country,” Zane said.
Zane talked about the importance of breaking the cycle of violence and ending human trafficking and applauded the courage of survivors of domestic violence who refuse to be silenced.
“They’re our sisters, they’re our friends, they’re our next door neighbors, they’re our mothers, they are the people that we love, and that’s why we’re here to raise our voices,” Zane said.
Her colleague on the board, 1st District Supervisor Susan Gorin, said many women live in pervasive fear of victimization at the hands of men.
“Your presence today helps us to raise awareness among many people in Sonoma County and Santa Rosa who are too comfortable who do not recognize how fearful we are,” she said. “And so we are gathered here today to say, ‘Enough’!”
Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch also attended, and spoke about the work of her office to bring justice for victims of domestic violence and sex trafficking and the support services available at the Family Justice Center of Sonoma County.
One Billion Rising was started by playwright Eve Ensler, best known for “The Vagina Monologues,” in 2012. Modest events were held in Petaluma in 2013 and 2014, and this was the first year the Commission on the Status of Women got involved.
“Globally, we’re coming together and saying we’re going to fix (violence) everywhere,” said Trisha Almond, founder and board president of Guided to Safety, which focuses on ending teen dating violence.
Dancing may not immediately seem an effective way to raise awareness about the issue, Almond said. But in fact dancing is an empowering and therapeutic way for women to bond with and support one another, she said.
One attendee named Irene danced with friends to popular songs of female empowerment, including Katy Perry’s “Roar.”
She carried a red rose and wore a heart stuck to her cheek. She said the event was good but needed to address the “root issues” behind violence toward women.